North Shore areas hold Memorial Day parades, ceremonies

Robert Pelaez

June 02, 2021

Originally published in The Island Now on June 02, 2021.

At a ceremony following the Port Washington Memorial Day Parade, Commander John Fiore of Port Washington’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Henderson-Marino Post 1819 opened the event with a reading of the first three stanzas of taps, and a reflection on the year past.

“We are not poets, nor philosophers, just average Americans saddened by war and tragedy,” Fiore said. “We at the VFW, the American Legion and all military groups support our nation and the values of liberty and freedom it represents. We express our deepest sympathies to the families of the fallen. May we all know peace in the coming days and years, and have strength and courage to pursue it. May we continue to pass along to generations that come a remembrance of days like these.”

State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington)  also attended the  event.

Sillitti described being at the event a “special” occasion. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of all the celebrations around the district,” she said Monday. “I hope everyone had a meaningful and safe Memorial Day weekend.”

“This Memorial Day, we pause to honor and remember the brave heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our great nation, protecting our dearly held freedoms,” Kaplan said. “Thank you to all those who have served, and may you and your family have a safe and meaningful Memorial Day.”

The parade’s grand marshal was Dr. Paul A. Hamlin, a decorated Vietnam veteran and retired medical doctor. In 1968, after Hamlin completed his medical internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital, he enlisted in the Air Force.

From August 1968 to July 1969, Hamlin served as a general medical officer and chief of pharmacy service at Bien Hoa Air Base in South Vietnam, receiving the Bronze Star for his leadership and devotion to duty.

In 1969, he returned to this country and finished his military tour at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. A year later, he resumed his medical education at New York Medical College and Metropolitan Hospital as a resident and chief resident with a subspeciality in pulmonology. He went on to have a private group practice in Great Neck for 45 years. He was also an attending physician at North Shore University Hospital.

Hamlin and his wife, Jane, have been married for 54 years, with two children and five grandchildren.

The Williston Park American Legion Post 144 held a parade starting at the Legion’s 730 Willis Ave. building Monday morning. Representatives of the Legion and VFW Post 5253 said most village politicians were not invited aside from Mayor Paul Ehrbar.

“There shouldn’t be no politicians marching in a Memorial Day parade,” VFW 5253 Commander John Incremona said. “The only politician that we had in our parade is the man that deserves to be in there because he helped get the parade run, and that’s our mayor.”

“They’re all welcome to come and speak, but to march in a parade, no, they don’t deserve that,” past Legion Post Commander Bob Guastella said. “There shouldn’t be any photo ops for people that don’t help you.”

The Village of New Hyde Park held a car parade on Saturday, which started at 9:30 a.m. on the southbound lane of Hillside Boulevard. Cars traveled to Village Hall at 10 a.m. for a wreath-laying ceremony. After the ceremony, the parade proceeded to Memorial Park where a full ceremony was held.

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Rich Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) and Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) attended and shared their thoughts on the event and the meaning of Memorial Day.

“We remember that every generation, whether in peace or in war, is called upon to do its part to save ‘the last best hope of man of earth,'” Nicolello said on Facebook. “God bless our fallen heroes, our veterans and those who are serving in the military today and God bless America.”

“Today we remember and honor those who gave what President Lincoln called ‘the last full measure of devotion’ in his famous Gettysburg Address,” Ra said. “May God Bless our heroes, our Gold Star families and may God bless America.”

The Village of East Williston hosted a ceremony at the Village Green on Monday which featured the national anthem, wreath presentations, a military salute, mayor’s awards, race awards and the playing of taps.

The Village of Floral Park also hosted a car parade starting at Village Hall on Monday, followed by a ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The ceremony included a presentation of wreaths to honor the fallen, a roll call of village residents who died while serving in the armed forces and a presentation of bouquets to Gold Star families.

The Town of North Hempstead postponed its Memorial Day weekend fireworks show, a drive-in commemoration slated to take place Saturday at North Hempstead Beach Park, because of strong winds and heavy rain in the forecast, officials said.

The rescheduled event will be held over Labor Day weekend on Saturday, Sept. 4, also at North Hempstead Beach Park, according to the town.